Monday, 18 September 2017

GBBO 2017 Week 3 - Bara Brith Inspired Teacakes

Bara Brith Inspired Teacakes

It was bread week on the Great British Bake Off this week - I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with baking bread - sometimes the dough just doesn't behave like I'd expect, or the tastes don't quite live up to expectations. I've had a few successes, like my pesto and feta swirl bread, but you may have spotted most of my recipes aren't yeasty. My partner however, is amazing at baking bread and is currently writing a guest post about this week's technical challenge.

I decided to have a go at the showstopper challenge, which were teacakes. When I was little, I remember going to my local market with my brothers and sisters, and eating toasted current teacakes with butter. Because of this and my inexperience with bread, I was pretty eager to attempt to master them.

None of the flavours the bakers in the tent took my fancy (way too many had cardamom in), so I decided to do a take on the welsh fruity bread known as bara brith. This bread contains mixed dried fruit (including raisins, sultanas and mixed peel), and is spiced with cinnamon, ginger and mixed spice. I used these elements in the teacake, to make a really tasty bun :)

After baking, I went a little away from my bara brith theme and glazed the teacakes with an orange and cinnamon glaze. This gave them a really lovely shine and added another dimension of flavour.

These are probably the most technically-correct bread I've ever made, and they really do taste fab. So give them a go - they're brilliant as an alternative to toast or a mid-morning snack. I'll definitely be making them again :)

This recipe makes 6 large teacakes, but double up the recipe if you want more.


For the soaked fruit:

  • 300g (2 cups) mixed dried fruit (I bought a blend of raisins, sultanas and candied mixed peel)
  • 75ml (1/3 cup) strong black tea (I brewed 2 teabags in a cup of water for 5 minutes)

For the dough:

  • 375g (2 & 1/2 cups) strong white bread flour
  • 1 sachet (7g) fast-action dried yeast
  • 3.5g (2/3 tsp) salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 45g (1/4 cup) light soft brown sugar
  • Finely grated zest of one orange
  • 35g (1/4 cup) butter, softened
  • 225ml (around 1 cup) tepid water
  • 1 medium egg, to glaze

For the glaze:

  • Juice of 2 oranges (100ml)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 50g (1/4 cup) caster sugar


1. Pour the mixed dried fruit into a mixing bowl and tip over the strong tea. Stir briefly then cover. Leave for at least one hour for the dried fruit to plump up. For the best results leave them overnight, but this isn't essential.

2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt, orange zest, ground cinnamon, mixed spice, ginger and crumble the brown sugar into the bowl (as brown sugar tends to clump). Stir in to evenly combine, then sprinkle over the yeast. Stir in.

3. Break the butter into small (1cm) cubes, then tip into the bowl. Use your hands to rub the butter into the flour. When you can no longer see any butter, make a well in the centre of the flour and tip in 3/4 of the water. Bring the mixture together with your hands to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.

4. Lightly oil a work surface and tip the dough onto the surface. Knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is really smooth and elastic. If you prod the dough it should spring right back. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for at least one hour, until doubled in size. 

5. Drain the dried fruit to remove excess liquid. Grease and line two baking trays with baking parchment.

6. Once the dough is ready, tip out of the bowl onto a lightly oiled surface. Knock any air out of the dough by pressing the dough down into a large rectangle. Scatter over the drained dried fruit then gently bring the dough over the fruit and knead until evenly incorporated.

7. The dough may have become stickier by this point due to the dried fruit addition.. If it does, sprinkle over a few tablespoons of flour and work in. Evenly divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten slightly with the palm of your hand into a rough circle. Place on the prepared baking trays, leaving plenty of space between each teacake. Cover with clingfilm and leave for 45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.

8. Remove the clingfilm and use a pastry brush to brush the top of each teacake with the beaten egg. Be careful not to let the egg wash drip down the sides of the teacake as this will inhibit it's rise. Bake the teacakes for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are golden, and if you flip a teacake over, it sounds hollow when tapped. 

9. Whilst baking, prepare the glaze by heating the orange juice, sugar and cinnamon syrup together for around 5 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.

10. Once the teacakes are out of the oven, brush over the glaze and leave to cool.

11. Enjoy on their own or with a little butter :)

Bara Brith Inspired TeacakesBara Brith Inspired Teacakes

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Saturday, 16 September 2017

GBBO 2017 Week 2 - Amaretti Coffee Sandwiches

The final bake I made for week 2 of the Great British Bake Off were Steven's amarpressi biscuits - they were piped amaretti biscuits filled with a coffee mascarpone filling. The first issue I had was finding one of the ingredients - semolina. None of my local big supermarkets stocked it (it must not be that popular in the UK anymore?), but luckily, my local Polish supermarket had loads of it!

The second issue I had was during the preparation of the biscuits. As I mentioned in a previous blog post (for the chocolate peanut butter spritz cookies), I've had some problems in sourcing good piping bags. I tried to make these on the same day as the spritz cookies and suffice to say, the piping bags were awful :(

I had a fix though, which doesn't look as pretty as Steven's, but is less fiddly :) I shaped balls of the dough, then squished them with a fork.

The filling is delicious, but not one children would like (or anyone who dislikes coffee). The instant coffee granules I used were pretty chunky (I used Nescafe Gold Black blend), so as you'll see in the recipe I used a little hot water to make the coffee into a smooth paste - this worked well, but if you have super fine coffee granules, the step isn't necessary.

This biscuit is very yummy, with a crisp outside and soft inner, even if you decide not to sandwich them. Perfect alongside a cup of coffee or tea, or even a cup of milk for the kiddies.

I increased Steven's original recipe and was able to make 24 small sandwich cookies.


For the biscuits:

  • 210g (1 & 3/4 cups) ground almonds
  • 210g (1 cup - 2tsp) caster sugar
  • 45g (3 tbsp) semolina (I used non-instant)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp amaretto liqueur 

For the filling:

  • 190g (7/8 cup) full-fat mascarpone cheese
  • 1 teaspoon very finely ground/espresso-grind coffee beans, or to taste
  • 20-30g (4-6 tsp) instant espresso coffee powder (if using chunkier coffee granules, dilute in 1-2tsp of water to get a smooth but spreadable paste, and use that), or to taste
  • 45-60g (3-4 tbsp) icing sugar
  • 25g dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids)

To finish:
  • 75g (1/2 cup) dark chocolate (optional)
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional)


1. Preheat your oven to 190°c (170°C fan)/375°F/Gas mark 5. Grease and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

2. Put the egg whites in a large grease-free mixing bowl whisk (use an electric whisk or stand mixer for ease) until they stand in stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted.

3. Add the ground almonds, semolina, and caster sugar and carefully fold in using a large metal spoon or plastic spatula. When combined, add the amaretto. Use your hands to blend the amaretto in evenly.

4. Weigh out 10g of the dough and roll into a ball. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat to fill each sheet. Use a fork (lightly dusted with icing sugar) to press down each ball until they are about 5mm thick. Lightly press in the opposite direction to create a grid-like effect.

5. Bake the biscuits in the pre-heated oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until light golden with slightly darker edges.

6. Remove the trays from the oven and leave the biscuits for a few minutes to cool slightly and firm up before carefully transferring to a wire rack. Leave to cool before sandwiching.

7. To make the filling, spoon the mascarpone into a bowl and give it a quick stir, then add the finely ground coffee and instant coffee powder (or paste if your coffee isn't finely ground). Stir to combine, then cover and chill for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.

8. Sift the icing sugar into the bowl with the coffee and mascarpone. Grate the chocolate on top and stir everything together. Taste the mixture and add more instant coffee or icing sugar as needed. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag (there's no need for a nozzle).

9. To assemble the biscuit, try to match the biscuits in pairs of the same size, shape and colour. Flip half of the biscuits over and pipe a mound of buttercream on these flipped biscuits.  Top each biscuit with the other half of the pair and gently press the two together so the cream is gently and evenly pressed towards but not over the edges.

10. To finish, for extra indulgence, melt the dark chocolate in a microwave on high power, heating for 10-15 second bursts and stirring well after each burst, until all of the chocolate has melted. Dip the biscuits into the chocolate, or drizzle over each pair of cookies. I then dusted mine with a little desiccated coconut, but this is completely optional (I just liked the look of it).

10. Enjoy!

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GBBO 2017 Week 2 - Cinnamon Fortune Cookies

The technical challenge on the second week of the Great British Bake Off were fortune cookies - simply they are really thin biscuits (like a tuile), shaped into the classic fortune cookie shape whilst warm. Now I've never made a tuile before, but how hard could it be? The method for making the batter is very simple, but the published recipe is a little misleading when saying the amount of batter to use and how big to make the cookies. They say to use 2 tbsp of batter per cookie and to spread it out until it is 10cm in diameter....Suffice to say that makes an incredibly large circle and makes a really thick circle as well.
After a lot of experimentation, I did get a few of the cookies fortune cookie shaped, and my recipe is below :)
I'd recommend testing these before making them for a party/event - they are a tricky thing to master and need to be shaped seconds out of the oven!

Oh, and I added cinnamon to the cookie to make it taste extra yummy, and make a small portion of the batter chocolatey (with some cocoa powder) - this is completely optional but makes the fortune cookies seem a bit more worth making rather than simply buying them in (you'll understand if any of your cookies crack - the heartbreak!)

Makes 12-15 fortune cookies (depending on how much batter you use per cookie)


  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 65g (1/2 cup) plain flour
  • 1 ½ tsp cornflour
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 150C (fan 130c)/ 300f/gas 2. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Write your fortunes on pieces of paper around 6cm x 1cm in size.

2. Use a whisk to beat the egg whites, vegetable oil and water together until frothy but not aerated.

3. Sieve the flour, cornflour, ground cinnamon (if using) and salt together in a bowl, then stir in the sugar. Add the egg white mixture to the bowl and beat to a smooth batter. Try not to incorporate any air during the beating as you don’t want bubbles in the batter.

4. Take 3 tbsp of the mixture and place into a little bowl. Add the cocoa powder and beat in. Pour into a piping bag.

5. Take 1-2 teaspoons of the batter and spread until it is a 6-8 cm wide (use an oiled spoon to do this). Only make 2 or 3 cookies at a time. Cut the tip off of the piping bag and pipe small dots of brown batter around the cookie. Run a skewer/knife through the dots to create a feathered effect. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies have started to turn brown.

6. As soon as the cookies are out of the oven, run a palette knife underneath to release the cookie. Flip the cookie over, place the fortune inside, then fold in half and pinch the semi-circular edges together to seal. Place the middle of the folded edge of the cookie over the rim of a glass and gently pull the corners down on the inside and outside of the glass, to form the classic fortune cookie shape. Place in a 12-hole muffin tin (as this helps to hold the shape) to cool and quickly shape the second fortune cookie.

7. Repeat with the other cookies.

8. Enjoy!

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Monday, 11 September 2017

GBBO 2017 Week 2 - Peanut Butter Spritz Cookies

Peanut Butter Rose Spritz Cookies

Peanut Butter Rose Spritz Cookies

Week 2 in the tent as always was about biscuits, and the signature challenge focused in on sandwich biscuits - i.e. when you get two biscuits for the price of one, and have them sandwiched together with a delicious filling! I was impressed by Stevens amarpressi biscuits (which I did give a go and will be blogging about soon), as well as Stacey's chocolate marshmallow ones. However for my first bake I decided to go down a different route and made a chocolate spritz cookie - meltingly soft (but not fragile), with a subtle flavour of cocoa. I filled the biscuits with a flavour packed peanut butter buttercream and wowzerz the combo was yummy!

The only issue I had with these biscuits were my new disposable piping bags :( They were very flimsy, and kept tearing on me...very annoying!

They will keep for 3-5 days in an airtight container - they will soften with time.

This recipe made 12 sandwich biscuits (so 24 cookies)

You'll need two baking trays, a piping bag (use a decent quality one!), a 1D piping nozzle and baking parchment


For the biscuits:
  • 225g (1 cup) baking margarine (or softened butter)
  • 110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) milk

For the peanut butter buttercream:
  • 250g (1 cup) peanut butter
  • 55g (1/4 cup) softened butter
  • 300g (3 cups) icing sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • 15g (1 tbsp) dark chocolate


1. Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/355f/gas mark 4. Draw 5cm circles on 2 pieces of greaseproof paper, flip and use this to line the base  of a greased baking tray.

2. Place the margarine and caster sugar into a mixing bowl and beat until very soft and fluffy. For this recipe, the best way to do is is by using an electric hand whisk (or stand mixer with the whisk attachment).

3. Add the egg, vanilla, salt, flour and cocoa and beat with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough is formed. Pour in the milk and beat in to loosen the dough - you want it to be loose enough to be able to pipe but hold it's shape.

4. Pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with a 1D (closed rose petal) nozzle. To pipe the biscuits, on the centre of one of the circles on the baking paper, pipe down and then spiral outwards to the edge of the circle. Repeat to fill the two trays. (You'll use around half the mix) They won't spread much so they can be fairly close together.

5. Chill for 10-15 minutes.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the sides have slightly coloured and the top feels fi to touch. Leave on the baking tray to cool. Repeat with the remainder of the dough, piping onto lined baking trays, chilling and baking.

7. To make the buttercream, beat the butter until it is really soft, then add the peanut butter, icing sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Beat well with a wooden spoon, until all of the icing sugar has been incorporated. Add more milk,  teaspoons at a time, until the buttercream moves easily when you stir the bowl (but holds its shape on a spoon if you lift some from the bowl and tip the spoon).

8. Grate the chocolate into the buttercream and stir in.

9. To assemble the biscuits, flip half of the biscuits over, so that their bases are pointing upwards. Pipe filling over the biscuits with their bares pointed up. Top with the other biscuit and lightly press down.

10. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Rose Spritz Cookies

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Monday, 4 September 2017

GBBO 2017 Week 1 - Showstopper - Roasted White Chocolate and Blueberry Pancake Cake

Roasted white chocolate blueberry pancake cake

Roasted white chocolate blueberry pancake cake slice

For the third challenge of Cake week, I actually made the cake before I saw the episode. I was too excited. It turns out one of the bakers had the same idea as me! The showstopper challenge was an illusion cake, i.e. a cake that doesn't look like a cake. I don't make many novelty cakes, so wanted to test myself.

What I ended up baking was a stack of pancakes - or is it? It's a simple but delicious Victoria sponge, which I filled and lightly frosted with a roasted white chocolate and blueberry buttercream. I then covered the cakes with fondant and painted them to look like the pancakes. Fun and not as difficult as it looks. Plus it tasted great.

I used hen eggs for the sponge but like previously (see here), I prefer using duck eggs when I get hold of them. The sponge tasted great with hen eggs but even better with ducks.

I've seen roasted white chocolate on some other cooking shows, and have wanted to make it for a while. Simply it involves slowly baking chocolate in an oven until it is golden. It tastes just like white chocolate chips in a fresh cookie, when the chips have turned a little brown on the outside. Even if you don't make the cake, try roasting a bit of white chocolate - you'll be amazed.

I also made a blueberry jam with frozen blueberries. It was really quick and added an extra dimension to the buttercream. This recipe makes about twice what you'll need for the cake - use the rest as a delicious toast topping :)

Makes one 20cm cake


For the cake:

  • 250g (1 cup) butter, melted
  • 250g duck eggs (around 4) or equivalent weight of hen eggs
  • 250g (1 cup) golden caster sugar
  • 250g (2 cups) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream:

  • 150g (3/5 cup) butter, softened
  • 300g (1 & 1/2 cups) icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 150g (1 cup) white chocolate

For the blueberry jam:
  • 200g (2 cups) frozen blueberries
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 50g (1/5 cup) caster sugar

To finish:
  • 600g (around 5 cups) fondant icing
  • Icing sugar, for dusting
  • Concentrated gel food colourings, yellow, red, ivory, blue and violet


1. Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/ 355f/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of two loose bottomed (or springform) 20cm round cake tins.

2. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the sugar and keep whisking for 3-5 until the mixture is pale and has at least doubled in volume (you can use an electric whisk at this stage if you like).

3. Whilst whisking, pour in the melted butter and vanilla extract. Once all of the melted butter has been added, sift in the flour and baking powder.

4. Fold the flour into the batter with a large metal spoon, just until you can see no more pockets of flour. As soon as this happens, evenly distribute the cake batter between the two cake tins.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes are golden, they are starting to pull away from the sides of the tin, and a skewer entered into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

6. Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

7. To make the buttercream, beat the butter in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until it is very soft (it will appear like a soft spread). Sift in half of the icing sugar and keep beating to incorporate the icing sugar.

8. Sift the other half of the icing sugar into the bowl, along with the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of milk. Beat until all of the icing sugar has been incorporated. If the mixture appears to thick (it is very hard to beat), add a little more milk (a teaspoon at a time). If when you spoon some buttercream out of the bowl, it immediately falls off the spoon, the mixture is too slack - if this happens add a few tablespoons of icing sugar. You want a spoonful of buttercream to slowly fall off the spoon, and to be spreadable.

9. To make the blueberry jam pour the frozen blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and heat for 5 minutes, until the blueberries are breaking down and the jam coats the back of the spoon. Break down with the back of a spoon and set aside to cool.

10. To roast the white chocolate, preheat the oven to 130c (120c fan)/265f/gas mark 1/2. Line the base of a baking tray with baking parchment. Chop the white chocolate as fine as you can, then scatter over the baking tray.

11. Bake for 5 minutes, then take out of the oven and stir the mixture, moving the white chocolate on the outside to the inside. Bake for another 5 minutes, and stir again. Repeat the baking and stirring until the white chocolate is a light brown colour. Set aside to cool, then chop finely.

12. To finish the buttercream, add the chopped roasted chocolate and a few tablespoons of the jam, so that it's a nice purple colour.

13. To assemble the cake, place a spoonful of the buttercream on the cake tray/serving dish. Use a serrated knife to level the top of the cake if needed. Place the first sponge cake on this buttercream and press down gently. This will stick the cake to the tray.

14. Spread on a thin layer of blueberry jam, and top with half of the buttercream. Use a palette knife to evenly spread the buttercream over the top of the cake. Top with the other levelled sponge.

15. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream - this gives the cake the crumb coat, and will allow the fondant to stick to the cake. Set the cake aside whist you prepare the fondant.

16. Knead the fondant icing lightly until it is easy to work with. Set aside 150g of the fondant. Take around 75g of fondant and mould into a ball. On a lightly dusted surface use the palms of your hands to roll the fondant into a long cylindrical tube, about 1cm wide and 30cm long. Press the top down slightly then pick up and press around the edge of the cake, touching the cake board.

17. In a little bowl, add a splash of water and add small amounts (by placing toothpicks in food colouring) of the brown, yellow, and red food colouring, to make a deep orange wash colour. Use a paintbrush to paint this over the top the fondant tube you've just placed on the cake, and come about half the way down the side.

18. Roll out the next tube of fondant and lie this on top of the first piece of fondant. Paint the dark orange wash on the fondant as previously. Repeat this process until you're at the top of the cake.

19. Roll out 125g of the reserved fondant on a floured surface (or silicon mat) until it is about 22cm in diameter (so that it covers the top of the cake and there's around 1cm extra around the cake).

20. Place on the top of the cake, then paint over the orange food colouring. This is a good tip I found out - get a piece of kitchen towel, and dap the top of the "pancake" - this gets rid of the paintbrush streaks and looks really cool!

21. Make a light orange glaze with yellow and ivory food colourings and a splash of water. Paint this over all the white fondant currently on the cake. You can now touch the cake up as you like to get the balance of dark orange and yellow.

22. Finish the cake off by colouring two thirds of the remaining fondant with some blue and violet food colouring until you get the perfect shade of purple for a blueberry. Form little balls, then use a toothpick to draw a cross in each "blueberry". Scatter across the cake.

23. Colour the last bit of fondant with yellow food colouring. Roll out thinly and cut out two 3x2cm rectangles. Place this on the cake to be a little butter. You're now done!

24. Enjoy!

Roasted white chocolate blueberry pancake cake

Roasted white chocolate blueberry pancake cake slice

Only Crumbs Remain
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GBBO 2017 Week 1 - Technical - Chocolate Mini Rolls

GBBO 2017 Chocolate Blackberry Mini rolls

When I heard what the title of the technical challenge of this week's GBBO was, I wondered "why?" (like what the bakers thought I imagined). Mini rolls, in case you don't know, are basically mini chocolate Swiss rolls filled with cream/buttercream and covered in chocolate. They're a popular addition to children's lunch boxes in the UK and I used to love them when I was little. I don't know if they exist in the USA, but there's probably something similar?

Now I've tried Swiss roll sponges in the past and have had mixed results. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to test out Prue's skills as a recipe writer, and maybe fix my historical issues with this flourless sponge.

Prue used peppermint extract in her buttercream, but my partner hates mint, and as blackberries are in season at the moment, I decided to add these to the filling of my mini rolls, which was simply flavoured with vanilla extract.

I only had a few issues with this bake. The first was that the recipe states to use two 20 x 30cm Swiss roll trays (normal baking trays are fine as long as their sides are at least 1cm tall) - I only own one 20 x 30cm tray, my other is bigger (about 36 x 25cm). This meant that my mini rolls didn't end up very uniform, but as I'm not in the tent, I don't think anyone will mind!

My second issue was just the quantity of buttercream the recipe said to use. I needed to loosen the buttercream (which wasn't suggested in the recipe) with a little milk, and needed to make more than was suggested.

Apart from that though, the sponge was easy to make, inexpensive as it used cocoa rather than melted chocolate, and came out really fluffy and chocolate-y. I was very impressed.

Makes 12 mini-rolls (but they're not that mini! Serve one per person).


For the mini rolls:

  • 60g (2/3 cup) cocoa powder (the best quality you can afford)
  • 30g (2 tbsp) melted butter, plus an extra spoonful to grease two trays
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons boiling water
  • 6 eggs
  • 150g (3/4 cups) caster sugar

For the filling:

  • 200g (7/8 cup) softened butter
  • 400g (2 cups) icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Around 50g (around 3/8 cup) blackberries, washed

To finish:

  • 250g (1 & 2/3 cups) milk chocolate
  • 250g (1 & 2/3 cups) 70% dark chocolate
  • 50g (1/3 cup) white chocolate


1. Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/ 355f/ gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of two 30 x 20cm baking trays with baking parchment.

2. Sift the cocoa powder into a mixing bowl, and pour in the butter, vanilla and water. Beat with a wooden spoon until you get a thick paste.

3. Separate the eggs and put the egg whites into a spotlessly clean glass mixing bowl. To be sure of no grease, you can wipe the bowl and electric mixer whisks with a little lemon juice or vinegar. Whisk up the egg whites until they form stiff peaks (i.e. when the whisk is lifted from the mixture, a peak forms that doesn't fall to one side). Add 50g of the caster sugar and whisk well until you have a glossy meringue. Set aside for a few minutes whilst you make the rest of the cake.

4. Place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and add the remaining 100g of caster sugar. Whisk up the yolks/sugar for a few minutes, until the mixture has at least doubled in size, has become lighter in colour and is really frothy. (I whisked the egg whites before the yolks because I'm lazy and didn't want to wash the beaters in between).

5. Add the cocoa/butter paste to the egg yolks and whisk in until the mixture is an even brown colour.

6. Add a third of the egg whites/sugar (meringue) to the chocolate mixture and beat thoroughly with a large metal spoon.

7. Add the remaining meringue and gently fold this into the mixture. The egg whites are the only thing that allow the cake to rise so this needs to be done gently. Fold only until you can no longer see any egg whites.

8. Evenly distribute between the two trays, and tip the tray from side to side to get it to each corner. Bake for 12-15 minutes until springy to the touch and the cake is slightly coming away from the tray. Take out of the oven, and cover the trays with a damp tea towel until the sponges are completely cool.

9. Whilst cooling, make the buttercream by beating the butter until it is really soft and spreadable. Add half of the icing sugar and cream the butter into the icing sugar. Once all of the sugar has been added, add the other half of the icing sugar, the vanilla and 1-2 tbsp of milk, and beat until all of the sugar has been incorporated and the buttercream is thick enough to spread (but doesn't fly around the bowl when you stir it).

10. Once the cakes are cool, tip the sponges on two sheets of greaseproof paper. Remove the top layer of greaseproof paper carefully away from the sponge. To each short end of each sponge, lightly score a line across the sponge about 2cm in, along the length of the sponge.

11. Cover each sponge evenly with the buttercream. Scatter the top with blackberries.

12. To roll up the sponges, from the front short edge, roll up the cake, stopping in the middle. Repeat the same from the back until both rolls meet in the middle. Cut down the centre between the rolls.

13. Trim the ends of each sponge. Divide each sponge into three (they will be 6 cm in length). Transfer to a wire rack with the seam facing downwards. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to set up.

14. Once ready to decorate, melt the milk and dark chocolate in a large microwavable bowl in the microwave on high power, stirring the chocolate every 30 seconds or so, until all of the chocolate has melted.

15. Place the wire rack onto a baking tray to catch the drips, and pour the chocolate over each sponge. Use a small palette knife to gently spread the chocolate over the sides of each roll, to cover the sides. This requires patience, and you can probably do a neater job than I did. It did finally work though :)

16. Set aside until the chocolate has firmed up.

17. Melt the white chocolate in a microwave on high power, checking every 15-20 seconds. Once the chocolate has melted, do something I didn't do, and wait for a minute until the chocolate becomes slightly thicker (to a consistency similar to what the milk/dark chocolate was once it was out of the microwave). I didn't do this so it was a little runny.

18. Pour the white chocolate into a piping bag, and snip off the end (about 1/2 cm up). Pipe lines across each mini roll. Leave to set.

19. Enjoy!

GBBO 2017 Chocolate Blackberry Mini rolls

Only Crumbs Remain
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GBBO 2017 Week 1 - Signature - Pineapple and Coconut Cake

GBBO 2017 Pineapple Coconut Lime Cake

The Great British Bake Off is officially back on our screens! I had some trepidation when the credits started rolling, what with going from the old-school quaint BBC to the outlandlish/off-the-wall Channel 4. 

However, I genuinely loved the episode, perhaps even more than I liked the simpler season last year. The new judge, Prue Leith, is very cool and her compliments to the bakers don't sound half-arsed or forced, both of which I've seen on some other baking shows. I also loved Sandi and Noel, and thought they were naturals.

But what about the challenges? I actually went crazy this week and made all three (gasp) cakes. In case you haven't seen my previous GBBO-inspired bakes, what I do is try to re-create at least one of the bakes (usually the technical but sometimes the signature). I then usually do my own thing in the showstopper :) I'm going to follow this formula this year as well, and started with the signature. 

The signature challenge was all about fruit cakes, where fresh fruit had to be used (no raisins or sultanas allowed!). If you've read more than a few of my posts, you've probably realised I love coconut, and there were two coconut cakes this week to choose from. The first was criticised for the amount of baking powder used, by the baker who actually left the tent (poor Peter). The other cake, made by the wonderful Sophie (who is definitely my favourite baker, if only because she is training to be a stuntwoman, which is super duper cool!) had another of my favourite fruits - pineapple.

She filled and frosted her cake with an Italian meringue buttercream and alas this is where my technique failed me. For some reason, it ended up too thin (maybe because I didn't whisk the egg whites for long enough?). I also personally found it too sweet. To rectify the cake, I made a lime buttercream and used this to top the cake.

It's not my prettiest work, but it does taste great. It's one to eat with a fork, and I'd recommend it as a dessert rather than a cake to have with a cup of tea. The coconut flavour really comes through, and if you can't get hold of a fresh coconut (or don't want the effort of preparing it), I'm pretty sure desiccated coconut will work just as well.

Makes one 20cm cake (easily serves 10)


For the cake:

  • 100g (1 cup) fresh coconut (I chopped up one coconut, which gave me about 125g of coconut flesh), with any brown bits removed
  • 150g (2/3 cup) fresh pineapple chunks (around 1cm cubes), plus a few extra chunks to decorate
  • 170g (3/4 cup) soft baking margarine (or softened butter)
  • 225g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 240g (1 cup) self-raising flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting

For the buttercream:
  • 200g (7/8 cup) softened butter
  • 400g (2 cups) sifted icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp lime juice


1. Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/ 355f/gas mark 4. Grease the base and sides of two loose-bottomed 20cm cake tins and dust lightly with flour.

2. Dry the pineapple chunks well with kitchen paper. Place the coconut flesh in a blender and blitz to a fine gravel.

3. Pour the margarine and sugar into a large mixing bowl and use an electric whisk to cream the two together until light and fluffy. 

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. From egg 3, add around a tablespoon of flour (this helps to stop the mixture from curdling). 

5. Pour the remainder of the flour into the bowl, with the pineapple and coconut. Fold in until all of the flour has been incorporated and the pineapple/coconut are well distributed.

6. Divide between the two cake tins, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. The cake will be coming away slightly from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tins.

7. Whilst the cakes are cooling make the buttercream. Beat the butter until it is really soft and spreadable. Add half of the icing sugar and beat in using an electric whisk or a wooden spoon - I find the wooden spoon less messy.

8. Add the other half of the icing sugar and enough lime juice to bring the buttercream together to the point where if you lift a spoon from the mixture the buttercream holds it's shape, but it doesn't take too much effort to move. Start with one tablespoon of lime juice, then add teaspoon-by-teaspoon until you achieve the correct consistency.

9. Once the cakes have cooled, the cakes are ready to assemble. Take both cakes out of the tins, and use a serrated knife to level the tops (so that they are flat). 

10. Place a spoonful of the buttercream on the cake board/dish, and press the first sponge on top. This holds the cake in position.

11. Pipe or spread half of the buttercream on the top of the first layer of sponge. I spread mine using a palette knife, but you could fill a piping bag with the buttercream, cut off the end (about 2cm from the tip) and pipe blobs all over. 

12. Top with the remaining layer of sponge. Apply a thin coat of buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake. I wanted the cake to have a semi-naked look, so left it like this, but you could skip this step and leave the sides fully exposed, or add another layer of buttercream to fully cover the cake (if you do this, chill the cake for 15-20 minutes before adding the second layer of buttercream).

13. Place the cake in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up the buttercream. Place an large flower star (2D) nozzle in a piping bag and fill with the remaining buttercream. Around the edge of the cake, pipe little kisses by holding the piping bag directly above where you want to pipe and piping a small spike of buttercream. 

14. Pipe roses on the top of the cake by holding the piping nozzle where you want the centre of the rose to be. Pipe a spiral starting from this point outwards. Repeat as many times as you want. 

15. Leave the buttercream to firm up in the fridge for 10 minutes or so. Top with the reserved pineapple cubes.

16. Enjoy!

GBBO 2017 Pineapple Coconut Lime Cake

Only Crumbs Remain
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Thursday, 31 August 2017

Cookies & Ice Cream

Cookies and Cream Oreo Ice Cream

The Great British Bake Off is back!! Were you excited? I sure was, and I thought episode 1 was excellent and inspiring :) However, before I do any GBBO bakes, I needed to share this really quick and delicious recipe with you guys. I've made ice cream a few times before, but this one is even easier than those ones. With only three ingredients (four if you count salt...), this recipe made around 900ml of ice cream and cost just under £2 to make. AND it takes minutes to prepare, requires no churning, and tastes incredible!

What's the secret? Well, two ingredients form the base as in some of my other ice creams (see here) - double cream and condensed milk. I only used half a standard can of condensed milk, so you could double up the recipe to make use of the other tin OR make a half batch of the amazing miracle fudge I made last week (see here).

I haven't even mentioned the flavour of the ice cream yet. Cookies & Cream - aka Oreos. I was a slow learner when it came to how delicious Oreos are, but I think it's my favourite food from America. I love that they're cocoa-y, so not way too sweet, and they add an amazing flavour to the ice cream base.

Makes 900ml


  • 200g condensed milk (1/2 a  can or 2/3 cup)
  • 300ml (1 & 1/4 cups) double cream
  • 1 x 154g (around 1 & 1/2 cups) pack Oreos
  • Pinch of salt


1. Find an old ice cream tub that used to have around 900ml of ice cream in (or just use a regular 1 litre tub).

2. Set aside 3 Oreos, then crush the remaining Oreos until they are fairly fine (you want to have some slightly bigger chunks, i.e. not a fine crumb).

3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the cream and condensed milk, using an electric whisk if you have one (a normal whisk will work - it's just a little more effort). Whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks (i.e. when you lift the whisk from the mixture a peak forms that doesn't fall to one side).

4. Fold in the crushed Oreos. Once evenly mixed through, pour into the tub.

5. Break the remaining three Oreos into uneven pieces (e.g break one into quarters, another into thirds and a third into eighths) and scatter over the top of the ice cream. Place in the freezer for at least three hours, until set. This ice cream won't form ice crystals, and you don't need to worry about it freezing too firm. If, for example, you left it a few days in the freezer before devouring it, just leave it at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving - then it'll be a nice soft scoop :)

6. Enjoy!!

Cookies and Cream Oreo Ice Cream

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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Miracle Microwavable Fudge

Miracle Kahlua Fudge cannot express how much I love fudge. I've made it many times before (see my amaretto fudge, treacle and cinnamon fudge, and traditional vanilla fudge recipes), and love every recipe, but was asked for the easiest recipe I could find, which didn't need any special equipment. I'd heard of fudge made in a microwave, known as miracle fudge, and decided to give that a go. I flavoured the fudge with vanilla and a few tablespoons of Kahlua (because what isn't better without coffee liqueur?), and amazingly the fudge turned out perfect! No sugar thermometer needed :)

These have a delicate taste of alcohol, so you can increase the amount if you want it super boozy, or leave it out if the fudge is for children/keeping pregnant ladies happy.

With only 5 ingredients, this is cheap to make, makes a lot of fudge (I made about 60 pieces), and all you need is a microwavable bowl and a microwave. My microwave is 800w, and I checked the mixture every 2 & 1/2 minutes. If you have a more powerful microwave (e.g. a 900w), check the fudge more often, say every 2 minutes. If you have a 1000w microwave, check every 90 seconds.

 It took me in total 15 minutes to make, then 45 minutes to set. So, perfect delicious fudge in an hour!

Fills a 20cm square cake pan (cuts into 8 x 8 squares)


  • 400g (2 cups) golden caster sugar
  • 1 x 397g (1 & 1/3 cups) tin condensed milk
  • 140g (3/5 cup) butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp Kahlua (or other liqueur)


1. Grease the base of a 20cm square cake tin (I used a silicon one but any should work fine) and line with baking parchment.

2. In a large heatproof bowl, pour the caster sugar, condensed milk, butter and salt. You want there to be enough room in the bowl that the fudge could increase to double it's size (it bubbles a lot in the microwave). Stir to dissolve the sugar into the condensed milk. Once you can't see any more sugar crystals, you're ready for the microwave.

3. Place the mixture in the microwave and heat for 12 minutes, stirring well every 2-3 minutes (every 3 minutes if you're microwave is 800w, and decrease the time if a higher power). The mixture will bubble up, start thickening and turn a very light caramel colour.

4. Add the Kahlua and vanilla extract and stir in. Heat for another 2 minutes, then take out of the microwave (carefully as the bowl will be very hot). Stir well, leave to rest for a minute, then stir well again. Repeat the stirring and resting 4 more times, then pour into the prepared tin and level.

5. Leave to set for 45 minutes - 1 hour until it's fully cool and sets. Slice into squares - I divided the fudge into 64 squares (8 x 8), but make the fudge pieces as big or small as you like. Store in an airtight container - it theoretically will keep up to 3 weeks, but it's so moorish, I highly doubt it'll last that long.

Miracle Kahlua Fudge

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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Foraged Blackberry Marshmallows

Blackberry marshmallows

Marshmallows are one of my favourite sweets to make (second only to fudge), and these ones only keep a few days, but they won't last that long! It's now the perfect season (at least in the UK) to forage for blackberries, and we collected a glut of them last weekend. I made a crumble and attempted (and failed) a blackberry sorbet. Then I decided to have a go at blackberry marshmallows - it uses my standard marshmallow recipe, and looks sieved and blended blackberries as the liquid base. After the marshmallow was finished, I poured it into a tin, which I'd scattered fresh blackberries into. And wow, these are flavour packed! And foraging is free, so provided you know what you're looking for, go for it :)

These will keep 2-3 days, and make a perfect sweet to delight your work mates/family!

Only pick the black ones, and be careful of thorns!
Makes around 25 pieces

  • 60ml (4 tbsp) blitzed and sieved blackberries (around 150g)
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) water
  • 2 x 12g sachets gelatine powder
  • 450g (3 cups) caster sugar
  • 150ml (2/3 cup) golden syrup
  • 150ml (2/3 cup) water
  • 50g (1/2 cup) icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 50-75g fresh blackberries (depending on how much you love blackberries)
  • Flavourless oil, for greasing


1. Grease a 20cm square tray/tin (I find a silicon tray works best) lightly with a flavourless oil. Pour the blended blackberries and water into a mixing bowl, and sprinkle over the two sachets of gelatine powder. Set aside until the gelatine has been absorbed into the liquid (it will become very thick) - this will only take around 5 minutes.

2. Pour the golden syrup, caster sugar and water into a medium saucepan and heat on a low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until the mixture reaches 130C/ 266F , and then remove from the heat for a few minutes (just until it has stopped boiling).

4. Start whisking the gelatine mixture in the mixing bowl (using an electric whisk or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment). Slowly and carefully, pour the hot sugar syrup onto the gelatine mixture, whisking constantly. The mixture will steadily grow in volume.

5. Once all of the sugar syrup has been added, keep whisking for 5 to 10 minutes, until the bowl just feels warm to the touch. I find that if using an electric whisk, I whisk until the marshmallow is so thick I can't whisk the mixture anymore even on the highest power setting. The marshmallow will be very thick and sticky.

6. In a small bowl, sieve together the cornflour and icing sugar.  Sprinkle half of this on the base of the lined square tub. Sprinkle the blackberries on the base of the tin.

7. Lightly oil a spatula and use this to transfer the marshmallow into the container. Leave to set at room temperature for at least 6 hours (you want it really firm before you slice it!) - ideally leave it overnight.

8. Sprinkle the remaining of the icing sugar/cornflour onto a chopping board, and tip the marshmallow out onto this board.

9. Dip a sharp knife in hot water, dry, then slice the marshmallow into 25 pieces. After each cut, repeat the dipping and drying - this will give the cleanest slices.

10. Turn the marshmallow squares in any spare icing sugar/cornflour, so that all sides are covered.

11. Enjoy!

Blackberry marshmallows

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Friday, 11 August 2017

French Chocolate Tart

This tart is inspired by French patisserie, and is ideal for those people who adore dark chocolate - packed full of flavour and the filling is incredibly smooth on the palette. This is the kind of dessert you can make for you/your partner, and not worry about the children wanting to steal any (at least that's how it was described to me). Use the best quality chocolate you can afford, but as long as it's 70%, the recipe will work :)

If you're like me and love orange chocolate, to give the tart an extra delicious note, you could add some orange zest to the filling and pastry.

The pastry can be trickier to work with than normal shortcrust, as it contains eggs and icing sugar. However, the taste makes up for it - the sweetness of the pastry really complements the deep bitterness of the tart filling. This pastry is blind-baked, meaning that it is baked first without any filling in it - this prevents the dreaded soggy bottom.

If you are worried about the soggy bottom, when you take the pastry out of the oven (before adding the filling), you can spread a thin layer of egg white over the case and bake for a few minutes - this adds an extra seal to 100% stop sogginess.

Serve this tart at room temperature, and serve small slices - it's incredibly filling!

To finish off the tart, I chilled some dark chocolate (about 20g) in the fridge until it was really cold. Then use a vegetable peeler or knife to scrape along the top of the chocolate bar. This will make nice scrapings to top the tart off.

The best kind of tart tin to use is a fluted loose-bottomed one, i.e. the bottom can be removed from the tin. Spring-form tart tins tend to brake and not being able to separate the sides from the bottom will make getting even slices very difficult.

Serves 20 (makes one 20cm tart).


For the pastry (sweet sable):

  • 175g (1 cup) butter, cut into cubes
  • 75g (3/4 cup) icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • Finely grated zest of one orange (optional)

For the filling:

  • 500g (2 & 7/8 cups) 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 200ml (4/5 cup) 4% (full fat) milk
  • 350ml (1 & 1/2 cups) double cream
  • Finely grated zest of one orange (optional)

To finish:

  • 1-2 tbsp icing sugar, for dusting
  • Dark chocolate shards (see above)
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1-2 tbsp flavourless oil (e.g. sunflower oil)


1. Prepare the pastry by creaming the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl, until all of the butter has been incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy. You could use a hand electric mixer for this.

2. Add the egg yolk, and the plain flour (and orange zest, if using), and either use a food processor or your hands to bring the dough into a bowl. If the dough seems very floury, add a tablespoon of cold water. Once the mixture is a smooth dough ball, cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Prepare your 20cm fluted loose-bottomed tart case by greasing the base and sides with butter, then dusting with plain flour. Lie a piece of clingfilm on your work surface. Place the chilled dough on the cling film and place another layer of clingfilm on the dough. This allows you to roll the pastry out thin, without needing to add loads of extra flour.

4. Roll the dough out until it is about 1/2cm thick. You can check whether you have enough dough by placing the bottom of the tin over the dough and check there is enough dough to cover the base and an extra 3cm around the base. Once thin enough, remove the top layer of clingfilm. Pick the dough up carefully and flip into the tart tin (so that the remaining clingfilm is on top of the dough. Remove the clingfilm. Press the dough into the sides of the tart tin. Leave the trailing pastry, and trim off after baking.

5. Place back in the fridge for 15 minutes. Whilst chilling, preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/355f/gas mark 4.

6. Once chilled, line the tart with some greaseproof paper, and fill with baking beans/rice/flour. Place on top of another tray. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the sides are golden. Carefully remove the paper and baking beans/rice/flour, then bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the base has gained a little colour and feels firm to the touch.

7. Whilst baking, make the filling. Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure that the bowl doesn't touch the water!). In another saucepan heat together the milk and double cream until small bubbles are starting to form on the surface of the mixture. Try not to let the mixture boil so much it froths up.

8. Whisk the eggs briefly, then pour the milk/cream over the eggs whilst whisking. Once all of the milk has been added pass the mixture through a sieve onto the melted chocolate, and whisk until the mixture is smooth and a deep chocolate colour. Add the orange zest, if using.

9. Once the tart case is baked, open the oven door. Pour the filling into the tart (it's easiest to leave the tart on the tray. Close the door and then turn the oven off. Leave for 45 minutes until the oven and tart is cool.

10. Remove the tart from the oven, and take out of the tin. Combine the orange zest with the oil.

11. Dust with icing sugar and cut into slices. Top with a little orange zest/oil and chocolate shards, and serve.

12. Enjoy!

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Saturday, 5 August 2017

Toffee Date Flapjacks

Toffee Date Flapjacks

I'm pretty into hiking at the moment, and on our long hikes, it's a good idea to make sure you have enough food :) Better yet that it tastes great to keep your mood up when the weather/terrain turns nasty. Porridge oats are a fantastic source of slow-release energy, and they shouldn't be overly messy to eat (unless you decided to make them extra sticky with a sauce or chocolate of course). Flapjacks are a quick and simple traybake, which seemed like an obvious choice for a high energy food.

I wanted something slightly different to the normal flapjack, which traditionally is just butter, white sugar, golden syrup and porridge oats. By switching the white sugar with  light soft brown sugar, and the golden syrup for treacle, you get a lovely deep toffee-like flavour. Dates are used in sticky toffee pudding to give the ultimate toffee hit, and add an extra dimension to these flapjacks.
If you're not taking these on a hike and don't mind them being sticky, you could dip these in caramel sauce for a decadent snack.

Makes 16-20 (fills one 20cm square cake tin)


  • 150g (2/3 cup) lightly salted butter
  • 125g (3/5 cup) light soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 225g (1 cup) whole porridge oats
  • 100g (1/2 cup + 2 tsp) dates, pitted and chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 50g (1/4 cup) fudge, chopped into 1cm cubes (optional)


1. Preheat your oven to 200c (180c fan)/ 400f/ gas mark 6. Grease the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin (I used a silicon one, but a standard one would be fine). Dust lightly with flour.

2. Combine the salted butter, sugar, and treacle in a saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally, until all of the butter has melted.

3. Pour the porridge oats into a mixing bowl and add the cinnamon. Stir, then pour the melted butter/sugar mixture into the bowl. Stir until all of the oats have been coated.

4. Stir in the chopped dates and chopped fudge (if using). Pour into the prepared cake tin. Bake for around 15 minutes, until the top of the flapjacks are turning golden and the mixture doesn't shake when the tray is lightly moved.

5. Remove from the fridge and leave to cool. Turn out and cut into squares.

6. Enjoy!

Toffee Date Flapjacks

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Monday, 31 July 2017

Sticky Toffee Basket Weave Cake

Sticky Toffee Basket Weave Cake Roses

This is a pretty special cake. My take on a sticky toffee pudding with a new and amazing toffee buttercream, surrounded by a piped buttercream to look like a basket of flowers. It looks fancy but with a few special piping nozzles, it's no where near as hard to make as it looks.

The nozzles you need are a 2D piping nozzle for the flowers. For the basket itself, I used a wilton 47 tip - if you search for a "basketweave piping nozzle" you'll find it. I believe there are different nozzles to make different width of baskets, so if you want thicker weaves get a bigger nozzle :) I'll describe here how to pipe the baskets, but I know it can be easier to see this being done - here is the youtube link I used. 

I used a 1M piping nozzle for the flowers and ridging, and a 104 wilton nozzle for the leaves (I'm pretty sure you could make good leaves just by slicing the end of the piping bag off however...)




This toffee buttercream is amazing, and it's really simple to make. Don't worry about making the caramel - this recipe is foolproof :)

Makes one 23 cm cake


For the cake:
  • 400g (2 & 1/4 cups) dates, chopped
  • 480ml (2 cups) weak black tea
  • 200g (1 cup) light brown sugar
  • 50g (1/4 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g (7/8 cups) butter
  • 2 tbsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 320g (3 cups less 2 tsp) self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt

For the vanilla buttercream:
  • 100g (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp) softened butter
  • 200g (2 cups) icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp boiling water
  • Red/pink/purple gel food colouring (to colour the flowers)
  • Green food colouring (for the leaves)

For the toffee buttercream:

  • 300g (1 & 1/2 cups) dark soft brown sugar (or half dark and half light soft brown sugar for a less intense toffee taste)
  • 170g (3/4 cup) butter, cut into cubes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 90ml (2/5 cup) skimmed milk 
  • 250 - 315g (2 - 2&1/2 cups) icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease two 20cm springform cake tin (with butter or oil), and dust the base and sides with flour.

2. In a saucepan add the chopped dates, black tea and bicarbonate of soda. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes until softened. Use a blender to mix the dates/tea into a thick sauce. Leave to one side to cool.

3. Melt the  butter in a saucepan or in the microwave (be careful in the microwave though as if you don't cover the plate the butter may "explode" all over the microwave...).

4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, golden syrup and vanilla together for a few minutes, until all of the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has become pale and slightly thicker. 

5. Whisk in the melted butter into the eggy mix. Fold the dry ingredients and pureed dates into the mix until no more flour speckles can be seen. Divide evenly into the prepared cake tin.

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, and the cake is coming away from the sides of the tin. 

7. Whilst baking, start the toffee sauce (this is the first step of making the toffee buttercream so see the toffee buttercream ingredients in the list above). Pour the dark brown soft sugar, butter and milk into a saucepan and place on a low-medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally until the butter has melted.

8. Turn the heat up (to about medium) and let the caramel boil for 4-5 minutes. If using a sugar thermometer, the temperature will read about 170c/350f. If not using one, stop when the mixture has deepened in colour and thickened. Take off the heat, add the vanilla extract and salt, and leave to cool for a few minutes.

9. Set 1/3 of the caramel sauce aside. Set aside the other 2/3 to cool, then place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to cool fully.

10. Once the cakes are out of the oven, prick all over with a fork. Spread over the caramel sauce (the third that isn't currently in the fridge). Set the cakes aside to cool fully.

11. To finish the toffee buttercream, take the caramel sauce out of the fridge and pour into a large mixing bowl. Sift in half of the icing sugar and beat in using an electric whisk if possible (a wooden spoon will work too, it'll just be harder work). Gradually add more icing sugar until the buttercream is thick and when you lift the buttercream from the bowl, it sticks to the whisk/spoon and doesn't fall off (but doesn't feel too stiff to move). If you add too much buttercream add a teaspoon or so of hot water to loosen.

12. To make the vanilla buttercream, beat the softened butter until very soft then sift in half of the icing sugar and the vanilla extract. Add 1 tsp of boiling hot water and beat. Gradually add the remaining icing sugar until the buttercream is thick enough to not fall off the spoon when lifted from the bowl, but not too stiff to move around the bowl.  Set aside one third of the buttercream. Take two tablespoons of this and colour it light green (for the leaves).

Divide the remaining buttercream into bowls and colour as desired for the flowers. For example if you want purple and pink flowers, divide the buttercream into two and colour one bowl pink, the other purple.

13. To assemble the cake, gently remove the cakes from the tins, making sure to keep the orientation (i.e. don't flip them). 

14. Place a tablespoon of buttercream (it doesn't matter which) onto the cake board/serving dish (this will ensure the cake stays still in transit, even if that transit is just from the kitchen to the dining room!). Top with the first layer of cake.

15. Use a palette knife to spread about a third of the toffee buttercream on the top of the cake layer. Try to evenly spread the buttercream to the edges - it doesn't matter if it goes over a bit.

16. Top with the second cake layer. Now use a palette knife to spread a thin layer of the uncoloured vanilla buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. This creates a crumb coat, and hopefully means you won't end up with any crumbs showing on the outside of the final cake :) 

17. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes, until the buttercream stops feeling sticky to the touch.

18. Now for the fun! Prepare piping bags - for the basket weave, place the piping nozzle into a piping bag and half fill with the caramel buttercream. For the flowers, place a 2D piping nozzle into another piping bag and fill with the flower colour of your choice. If you want flowers with two colours in them, spoon half of e.g. the pink buttercream down one side of the piping bag, and the purple buttercream down the other side.

19. Pipe the basket onto the cake. If you practice using the basketweave nozzle, you'll note that if you have one end of the piping nozzle towards you, you'll get a smooth line when piped down, and when you turn the piping bag 180 degrees and pipe down, you get a ridged effect. 

20. Pipe a ridged line down the cake, then pipe smooth lines horizontally over the vertical line you've made, leaving a gap about the width of your piping nozzle between the lines.

21. Pipe the next vertical line, then pipe ridged lines from the gaps between the horizontal lines, over this next horizontal line.  If this doesn't make sense, follow the youtube link at the top of the page for a visual demonstration by the experts.

22. To pipe the roses, hold the piping bag with the 1M nozzle vertically over where you want the centre of the rose to be, then pipe a concentric circle going outwards (like a snail shell). Repeat as desired, using other colours if you like.

23. Place the green buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a flower petal nozzle (I used a wilton 103). Pipe leaves about 1.5cm around the flowers (this just means piping down and along for a second or so, and the nozzle means you get a nice leave shape).

24. To finish, I piped the remaining purple/pink buttercream around the edge of the top of the cake. I stuck with the 1M nozzle and simply piped down then moved around 1cm, to create a kind of ripple effect.

25. Enjoy!!

This cake is lovely and moist and should keep for up to a week in an airtight container.

Sticky Toffee Basket Weave Cake Roses

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